Obama says Elizabeth Warren ‘absolutely wrong’ on trade

02:55 - Source: CNN
Obama slammed by left for supporting trade deal
Washington CNN —  

President Barack Obama is personally challenging some of the assertions being made by his fellow Democratic Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren over his push for greater free trade authority. In an interview with Yahoo, released on Saturday, the President said “she’s absolutely wrong” when talking about possible implications if Congress grants him more authority to negotiate trade pacts.

Warren has become one of the fiercest critics against the proposal for fast-track authority for trade agreements which would mean the Senate could only vote up or down on them but not approve any amendments.

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Earlier this week, Warren said in a speech that such authority could mean a future President could undo some of the banking reforms put in after the 2008 economic downturn.

In reaction to the possibility of the banking regulations being relaxed, the President told Yahoo, “The notion that I had this massive fight with Wall Street to make sure we don’t repeat what happened from 2007-2008, and then I signed a provision that would unravel it? I’d have to be pretty stupid, and it doesn’t make any sense.”

He added: “There is no evidence that this could ever be used in this way. This is pure speculation. She and I both taught law school, and one of the things that you do as a law professor is that you spin out hypotheticals. This is all hypothetical, speculative.”

Warren was referring to a U.S.-European Union trade partnership being negotiated with one of the issues being how much banks can borrow. E.U. officials have requested the U.S. lower the borrowing limits to what the Europeans have put in place, which so far American officials have refused to do.

“This is hardly a hypothetical possibility,” she said on Tuesday, because the U.S. is “already deep into negotiations” with the E.U. and “big banks on both sides of the Atlantic are gearing up to use that agreement to water-down financial regulations.”

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When asked about how personal this fight has become, Obama said , “you know, the truth of the matter is that Elizabeth is a politician like everybody else, and she’s got a voice that she wants to get out there. I understand that, and on most issues, she and I deeply agree. On this one, though, her arguments don’t stand the test of fact and scrutiny. “

Increasingly, the President has become more forceful against critics in his own party who are fighting against granting him this authority, telling an audience at Nike headquarters on Friday that there have been “a bunch of critics” against a proposed Pacific trade agreement and “typically they’re my friends coming from my party.” He said he has no other rationale than doing what he thinks is best for the American economy.

“I actually think some of my dearest friends are wrong,” he said. “They’re just wrong.”